Why (and How) I Graduated in 3 Years

Article by Celine Nie

I never planned to graduate in three years.  When I came to Babson in 2017 I was prepared to have the best four years of my life and enjoy every bit of it. Some backstory about how I got to Babson in the first place: I wasn’t supposed to go here. I applied on a whim wh

en it was suggested to me by a summer program professor I had in my sophomore year of high school. I was supposed to be a chemistry major at some large state school, I was supposed to get my master’s and work at a laboratory, and I was supposed to contribute to academia.  But that’s the funny thing about ‘supposed to’, life has other plans. I mean, thinking about the last couple months, I was supposed to have my senior spring, I was supposed to have commencement with all my best friends. But now, I’m at home writing this article.  Here are answers to some commonly asked questions before the nitty-gritty: 

  • How many credits did you come in with? 12 (you can only come in with 16 total credits now, but during my entrance year it was unlimited, and I had friends who came in with 40+ credits)

  • Did you even get to study abroad? Yes, I did three electives abroad and was fortunate enough to have gone to three different countries on three different courses.

  • But you’re not graduating with your friends, doesn’t that make you sad? Well… kind of. One of the reasons I chose to graduate is because I felt like I had  a good enough support system where my age (or class) of graduation was irrelevant. 

  • You’re really speeding up your life, don’t rush. Do you even feel like you’re ready for the adult world? Having taken advantage of the various learning opportunities at Babson, I have never felt ill-equipped for the “real world”. More importantly, I learned in college how I learn best and in which ways I value personal growth. For me hands-on non-classroom experiences are vital to my development and I left Babson feeling like I’ve tapped out on what I was passionate about on-campus. 

Being a year-around student-athlete, going abroad for a full semester was difficult for me to do, so I gravitated towards completing electives abroad. The electives abroad + the one summer session I did + existing 12 high school credits + overloading three times allowed me to graduate a full year early without realizing it. I think I am one out of 15-something students in my entrance year, high school class of 2017, to graduate in three years, so I am thinking it’s becoming more common. Once I decided to graduate, I had some fears. What if no one will accept me during senior week? What if people don’t relate to me because technically I’m not their year? What if I feel like an outsider during senior activities? I laugh now because none of those things happened. But the preemptive anxiety of being an outcast almost kept me from choosing early graduation.  I chose graduation knowing that I would never get to host a SODA, never be able to be commencement speaker, never get to say “those were the best four years of my life”. Luckily, my best friend was graduating early with me and I knew he could also understand this sense of loss. I have had many conversations with people saying that I was making a dumb decision, that I was cutting my young adult life short. But the more I think about my time at Babson, the more I feel like I have been able to cram four years of learning and fun into three.  As Babson students, we are placed in a unique learning environment. Most of our classes require teamwork (whether we wanted it or not), we were taught how to present and speak in front of others, we were able to build relationships with our professors because of class sizes, and also learn from our peer’s successes and failures. When we entered professional situations, we had already learned about what to look for in a balance sheet or how to send an informative, but brief, email. Our education formed us into life-long students who knew how to adapt, but more importantly how to be around others.  I was ready for a change.  My education at Babson was complete. I felt that I was ready to make my mark on the world and get my hands dirty. For me this feeling came in three years, for others it might be longer. But the Babson journey is unique and I’m leaving with a sense of accomplishment that will continue long through my adulthood. Graduating in a pandemic was not optimal, and similarly I don’t think there is a perfect time to graduate. The world continues to be an unknown place and it is our life’s goal to find where we fit and how we can make it better. Just by attending Babson we’ve built a foundation to educate ourselves and adapt to the world around us. It’s through my education and experiences at school that I feel confident in leaving and discovering on my own. And that’s why I graduated in three years.